MediaFile

Sony offers big PS3 price cut, if you can get the credit

With Black Friday only a few days away and projections for the holiday shopping season bleak, it’s not surprising that Sony is making a price cut move on its PlayStation 3 video game console to lure cash-strapped shoppers.

Now, you can get a hearty $150 price cut on the PlayStation 3 console. The caveat: you’ve got to sign up for a shiny new PlayStation credit card first.

There’s two ways to take advantage of the deal, it just depends how badly you want the PS3.

If you can’t wait to get your hands on the console, go to www.sony.com/newpscard to get instant approval for the PlayStation credit card and the visit the Sony Rewards site to purchase the PS3. You’ll receive a $150 credit for the PS3 after you’ve been approved for the card. What’s more, gamers who receive instant approval for the credit card will receive a coupon from Sony for a buy one, get one free offer on any Blu-Ray DVD purchase.

For those who are slightly more patient, sign up for the card at www.sony.com/getpscard and use it at any Sony retailer to purchase the PS3. The $150 credit will show up on the next billing statement.

Hey Media, don’t cross Barney Frank!

Here’s a fun one from my colleague Emily Kaiser, who’s reporting from Capitol Hill today (she’s monitoring the hearing on TV. Turns out we have someone else there. That’s what you get when you write about DC from New York), specifically from the Financial Services Committee in the House of Representatives:

Committee Chairman and Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Barney Frank was convening a hearing on how the government is using the $700 billion rescue fund, featuring some serious economic star power in the form of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Chairman Sheila Bair.

Long story short, when the financial future of the nation is at stake, you gotta let the hearing get started — especially when Rep Frank wields the gavel:

Murdoch, Bancroft & Murdoch Esq.

murdoch.jpgThe big topic at News Corp’s annual meeting in New York on Friday was how the international media conglomerate will weather the financial crisis as advertising revenue looks like it will be on the skids for a while.

For that, along with Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch’s messages of resistance and hope in the face of financial scariness, see the story we ran on the wire earlier. MediaFile is more concerned with the younger generation that’s running News Corp these days.

So too are News Corp’s investors. One of them asked Murdoch how Natalie Bancroft — brought on to the board from the Bancroft family after it sold its controlling interest in Dow Jones (and The Wall Street Journal) to News Corp — would manage to be an effective director when she is better known as a “27-year-old, professionally trained opera singer based in Italy.”

FT CEO spots green in the red

When the markets go south and most people are losing, it’s safe to say that there are some others who are winning, or at least spotting opportunities. You could say that about the Financial Times and its chief executive, John Ridding, who is finding a business angle on what they say about the editor’s decision-making process: “If it bleeds, it leads.”The London-based FT is building up a pretty good head of steam, particularly in the United States, as the effects of the financial crisis ooze into yet more corners of Wall Street and Main Street (sick of the “streets” cliche yet?). Here’s evidence, some of which Ridding gave me when we had breakfast at Michael’s last week:

    Newsstand sales rose 30 percent in the United States in September, and about 20 percent in Europe and Asia. That’s compared to August 2008, i.e., it’s a “sequential” gain rather than year-over-year growth. In the United Kingdom, Ridding said, “We basically couldn’t print enough copies and retailers were running out.” The number of registered users of FT.com rose to 750,000 now, compared with 30,000 a year ago. Some of this growth of course, came from pulling back the curtain last November. But Ridding said a couple hundred thousand of those showed up in the past few months, as the mortgage and housing crisis in the United States deepened and then metastasized into full-blown world-market-crisis mode. (Here’s how registration and subscription works at FT.com) During one week, Ridding noted, page views hit 25 million, more than double the normal amount. Ridding’s conclusion: “What [the crisis] is doing for our readership and audience is pretty remarkable. I think it really underlines this idea that at a time of turmoil, people really do need trusted guides, and are prepared to pay.” (The Journal, if anyone’s wondering, logged 21.7 million visitors at its website, up 110 percent from last year. It’s hard to tell whether the figure is comparable.) During the week of Sept. 22, online page views were up 300 percent, and monthly unique visitors were up 250 percent compared with last year. The United States is pitching in so far, producing the largest number of unique users.

That’s all very good, but reader interest tends to spike during news events, and ebb afterward. Ridding suggested ways to retain the newcomers:Stick to paid subscriptions. Ridding noted that many readers have stuck with the paper through its newsstand sale price increases, and plenty of folks are willing to pay for not only the FT, but access to the Lex column too.

    Do more video. People apparently like it as it’s resulting in more than a million views a month, Ridding said. Get the paper on more formats. Press hard for online subscriptions as much as print ones. Get it on the Amazon Kindle electronic book reader. Use RSS and other tools — whatever it takes to get it out there. Push online use as much as print. Ridding was proud to say that the FT’s dependence on print advertising has fallen to 42 percent, an important point to keep in mind as print newspaper advertising dries up. And don’t get worried about the idea that online use will “cannibalize” print sales, Ridding said. “The idea of online cannibalizing print is not just wrong, it’s the opposite. It’s proving to be a very effective marketing tool for the newspaper.”

None of this should indicate that the FT has figured out something that the rest of the world has missed, he noted. “No one has necessarily nailed the business model in media, but we feel that we’ve got a pretty strong vision and operation.”

Playboy takes on Wall Street’s bare market

Talk about naked shorting! Playboy magazine is getting into the financial crisis with a planned photo spread in its February 2009 issue and on Playboy.com called “Women of Wall Street.” With the potential for big job losses and a number of careers in the balance, the magazine figures that there’s no better time to tap into a relevant news topic, just like it did with “Women of WorldCom” and “Women of Enron” earlier in the decade.

You can read about the project on our website. Meanwhile, here are the rules:

Candidates currently must work for a financial institution or recently have worked for a financial institution to qualify. Women who are interested in posing can apply by sending one face shot, one full-body shot, and a legible photocopy of a government-issued photo ID proving they are 18 or older. They also must include the following information with their submission: full name, age, hometown, phone number, e-mail address, employment location, and a few sentences about themselves. For full details, please visit www.playboy.com/wallstreet.

Submissions can be sent to womenofwallstreet@playboy.com or mailed to:
PLAYBOY, Attn: Women of Wall Street/ 680 North Lake Shore Drive/ Chicago, IL 60611. Further instructions can be found at www.playboy.com/pose. Entries must be postmarked by MONTH DATE, 2008.

Time magazine – No Depression?

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The financial crisis has produced no shortage of news media references to the Great Depression. Reuters News has a slideshow this week, for example, called “Ghosts of 1929.” All the talk of Dustbowl Okies and Folkies has spurred its share of stories comparing that era to 2008, including this Reuters story by yours truly.

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson contributes the latest entry in the latest edition of Time magazine, which the magazine teases on its cover with the headline, “No, this isn’t Depression 2.0. How history can help us avoid it.” The story is a must-read for anyone who remotely cares about history and money.

But… is Time having its breadline and eating it too? We ask because the headline on the cover that teases Ferguson’s article tells us it’s not the Depression — just beneath a full-cover image of the urban poor in a breadline circa 1930-something. The big headline on the page reads: “The New Hard Times.” Maybe — but not yet.

Breakingviews breaks in to The Wall Street Journal

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The Wall Street Journal recently stopped carrying the Breakingviews business analysis column in favor of its expanded in-house Heard on the Street column, but Breakingviews still managed to crash the party in Wednesday’s paper. In true merry-prankster mode, the Breakingviews ad urges readers of Heard on the Street to think about what they’re missing and how to get a new fix. What the ad doesn’t mention is that The New York Times picked up Breakingviews for its business section just after the WSJ dropped it. Such a move would be a real paper cut.

The New Yorker gives red ink a black eye

Like most intellectuals and sophisticates, I read the cartoons in The New Yorker before going on to all those articles filled with big words and umlauts. In doing that in the October 6 edition, I noticed that every one of them pertains to the financial crisis.

The New Yorker, which has made a market of acidic, sharp and occasionally opaque observances of upper-class life in its cartoons for decades, usually features a grab-bag of themes and illustrators in its pages. This is the first time that every cartoon is devoted to one topic, however.

While it’s always more dandy to read the magazine on paper, its website features a slideshow. Enjoy the meltdown.

Fox Business claims weekend OT

Ask any business reporter covering the financial crisis what they were doing this weekend — the answer is probably not “mowing the lawn” or “doing things that don’t involve work.”

The folks over at Fox Business Network is playing that to their advantage. A new ad, first reported by TVNewser (we think), points out that FBN was broadcasting live news this weekend while brand X, the much larger and older rival network CNBC, was mainly running taped broadcasting.

That said, CNBC was live on Sunday night with a two-hour special, but FBN is taking credit for running live coverage on Sunday morning, reporting that crucial progress had been made in Washington on the $700 billion bailout plan. At the time, spokeswoman Irena Briganti said, CNBC was airing a re-run of Suze Orman. Briganti said FBN also was running live for several hours on Saturday and Sunday while CNBC was not.